Monday, November 24, 2014

PLANTS AND TREES OH MY


So the last few weekends of nice weather, before the cold and rain came, was tree and bush planting time.  I figured I better get these pictures posted.  

The biggest goal was to get the driveway bushes/trees finished.  We had purchased them a month or more back and were keeping them in town but needed to get them in the ground out there as soon as possible so they could beat the Winter weather.  We made it just in time.  

Plum plumbago and Texas sage
Above is the corner of the porch.  I planted one of the Texas sage plants in the middle and then a blue plumbago on each side.  It's not a complete flower bed, as you can see I just tilled the soil and dug some holes.  I'll still need to make it more defined and of course mulch it, but for now, they are in the ground.  And three weeks in, they seem to be doing well.


Along the driveway, I had added all of the sweet almond bushes we purchased, one in between each of the Texas Lilac trees that were planted in the Spring...


This is a closeup of the sweet almond bush.  Wow, if only you could smell this through the computer, it's SO amazing...they also have flowers that are fairly similar to the flowers the Texas Lilac will produce, white instead of purple.  

Texas Lilac and Sweet Almond bush along the driveway
And this is the view down the driveway....I couldn't get them all in this photo, but there are eight of the Texas lilac trees and then nine of the sweet almond bushes.  That lines the driveway from the entrance down by 2nd Family's house all the way up to where the fence turns the corner...

More vitex and sweet almond
And that's here...in the upper left corner is the driveway as it heads toward the farmhouse and then this is the back of 2nd Family's back pasture, part of our front yard.  I planted four more along here (two of each) to sort of carry that driveway design around the corner and to provide us with a pretty view from the front porch.  They will also, as they grow, provide us a (and 2nd Family) a bit of privacy between their pasture and our front yard.  Not that we need it, but still it's nice to have a break of some sort along an empty fence.  

There is one more major thing that has been done to the front yard area, but I'll save that for a future post.  It'll be nice to blog about something fun (and plan around) in the middle of Winter, ha. 

All in all though, we're very very happy that we got this done, we sort of started it in the Spring, then it just got too hot, and we couldn't find the sweet almond bushes, and suddenly the weather cooled and we found the bushes!  We love it when a plan comes together!

Did you get any big projects done that you had been putting off before Winter arrived?


Sunday, November 23, 2014

MASON JAR INFUSER GIVEAWAY

It's time for a giveaway!

Ball Infuser
I recently stumbled across this new item (new to me anyway) from Ball Brands.  It's a Mason Jar Infuser.  It lets you turn a canning jar into one of those infusers that puts the essence of fruits and other items into drinking water. I bought one for our own use and so I picked up a second one to give away.

Mason Jar Infuser
You simply fill the infuser section with the fruits/veggie combination of your choice (the back of the package, photo below, has some suggestions) and then screw the infuser piece into the lid.  Lastly, the whole unit is screwed onto a widemouth jar filled with water.  Pop it into the fridge and let the flavors infuse the water.  You can even drink directly out of it, like a sippy cup.  


If you don't win one and still want one (they would make fun Christmas gifts), they are available in some stores that sell Ball products or Amazon sells them via the following link:

Ball Wide Mouth Mason Jar Infuser  

This isn't a promotion from Ball, this is just coming from us to you, so we'll be shipping it out directly ourselves.

As always (and for those new to the blog) the rules are as follows:

You need to be a "friend of the farm" (a follower) and then leave a comment here on this thread letting us know that you want to be entered.

The contest will run until 11:59pm, next Sunday night, the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  Then we'll randomly pick one winner, post the results and the winner will need to email me with their shipping address at that time.  We'll ship your item directly to you within a few days.

Sorry, due to large international shipping cost of such a small item, it's only open to US and Canada residents.

One entry per person.

Thanks and good luck!

RAGS FOR SALVAGE, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Rags for Salvage, image courtesy of UK Historical Archives
Salvaging rags....WWII Europe, there was a a huge conservation push to save things that could be used in the War effort and this one was reminding people to keep even rags, or worn out clothing, so that they could be reused.

They were used to make bandages for the wounded, and were also turned into blankets for soldiers.  

Love the graphics on this poster, they are so colorful and vibrant.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  After yesterday's storms, today is a sunny and clear (and probably up to almost 80, go figure).  2nd Man is staying in town, sick of course, but I'm off to the farm to take some things out there, and check things out.  Also hoping to gather some persimmons, unless they've all been washed off the tree after the rains.  We'll see!  More later this afternoon!  Tonight is leftover chicken soup...yum!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

STORMY WEATHER AND CHICKEN SOUP

Storm clouds brewing
Stormy weather and so far, nothing too severe (despite this picture!).

2nd Man, even though not feeling well himself, decided to make us some of his famous (in our house anyway, LOL) homemade chicken soup.


Chunks of chicken breast for the white meat, some thigh meat for the rich dark meat, heirloom carrots (yellow, purple and orange), small potatoes (red/white/purple), onions, garlic, parsley and...

Rustic chicken soup
...it was all cooked in rich, homemade chicken stock (he uses more veggies, wings and a pressure cooker to make that).  That's really all I know, other than it's SO good.  And on a cool, rainy, feeling sick kind of day, it is spot on perfect.

Tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful so I'll head to the farm to check things out for the first time in almost two weeks, hopefully we remain creature free and all will be good out there.  But for now, I'm curled up on the couch with one of the cats, full tummy, feeling much better.

Hope your weekend is going better and filled with things that make you happy!


Friday, November 21, 2014

TAIL END

Back amongst the living...still a bit stuffy, but much better.  Two days off work (well two half days and one whole day) and feeling better.  


Of course, now 2nd Man is getting sick...sigh.  I guess better to get it out of the way now before the holidays (as long as his doesn't lead into Thanksgiving).

Thank you all for your kind words, I'll catch up on comments this weekend...


...because it looks like we'll be having some nasty weather!  The city of Houston is even sending out alerts that we could have large hail, high winds, torrential rain, and of course, tornadoes.  Yikes!  They don't usually give these kinds of warnings, which is why this is so odd.  We've already had a 1/2" of rain over the last two days, which is nice and slow, but they are saying upwards of 3" or 4" in just a few hours.  Still it IS the unpredictable nature of the weather...

...because it could also be...


...blue skies and sunshine?

We'll see soon enough!

UPDATE:  Nope, they were mostly right...we've had rain all day, but nothing severe, so that's good.  Tomorrow is supposed to be nice.  Let's hope THAT part of the forecast is right, ha. 

500 FOLLOWERS


Thank you!  Sometime yesterday, "Susan" became the 500th follower of our blog, or "Friend of the Farm" as we like to call you all.  I remember the early days when we would get one or two.  Then it was ten and twenty and it's slowly gone up from there.  Now we're at 500.  Yay!

It's a slow but steady journey and we are grateful that others find it interesting enough to want to follow.  Thanks for coming along on the ride.   

How many people can say that they have 500 friends?  

We can!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SICK DAY

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later...


...scratchy throat...stuffy nose...coughing...general malaise...
I came home early yesterday and today I'm staying home from work. 

Feeling a bit better, but still need to rest so I don't undo the good I've already done by resting and taking my medicine.

Yellow Wildflower
But hey, when we don't feel good, don't flowers make us feel a bit better?  So I'll share this yellow wildflower I photographed at the farm.  
Yellow always makes me smile...

Stay healthy this season!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TRADER JOES CANDLES

We have recently found the perfect tapered candles.  Now we know of course, that not everyone has a Trader Joe's nearby but if you do, or know someone near one, these come very highly recommended.  They are usually only available at this time of year.

Trader Joe's candles
They are simply called..."EIGHT CANDLES".  As the name implies, it is a package of eight candles, these being a cream color (they also have white).  They are dripless and self-extinguishing.  We are always doubtful of dripless but imagine our surprise when we lit a few for a dinner recently and they burned about 7 hours without any drips.  We lit them about 6pm and at 1am, they were almost gone...not a single drip in all that time.  Did they self extinguish?  Yep, we actually watched two of them burn down almost to the bottom and then the flames just went out.  Fascinating to say the least.

Side note, NEVER leave a burning candle unattended!

They come from the Czech Republic and the wicks attach them in pairs (simply cut the wicks to the desired length).  Best of all, they are low priced!  These eight candles were less than $3.00 package...or about 35 cents each!

Candles are always nice to have around; they are nice for ambiance, they are great alternatives to electric light, and of course they are great as backup light in an emergency.  That makes them great additions to your box of preps.


Monday, November 17, 2014

MYSTERY FRUIT TREE: PERSIMMON

I mentioned recently that 2nd Family's "R" took a brush hog and a tractor and cleared some new areas on our property.  So last weekend, before the cold settled in this weekend, I decided to explore the new spots.  

I was just casually walking along when I found this tree:

Update:  It's a Persimmon tree
It was COVERED in fruit.  

Now granted, we couldn't eat any of it because it stayed on there past what we would presume is harvest season and shriveled up and went bad.  Apparently this is when they ARE edible.  Thanks for that info.  Hey, it's a wild fruit tree of some sort!  It's in a spot on the property that no one has been able to get to for probably twenty years or more.  Being Fall, all the leaves have already dropped off so it was so clearly visible and neat to see.

Update: Persimmons on a tree
I smashed one open and this is what it looked like.  There seemed to be two or maybe three seeds inside, they were elongated.  I didn't notice an identifiable smell but it did smell sweet.  These are growing without any human intervention, including watering.  They are growing near a wet area of the property, a kind of natural pond site, so the roots are probably able to get plenty of water.  They obviously survived during the great drought of 2011.

UPDATE: Persimmon!
The best part of all?  There was another tree, just like this one, with the same kinds of fruit on it, and it was at least 30 or 40 feet tall!  We love the thought of some naturally occurring fruit tree on our property that we can harvest from but before we start Googling recipes, we need to see what it is. 

SO...anyone hazard to guess what fruit this might be?
And if you do know, any good ideas for its use?

UPDATE:  THANK YOU all for the ID, we need to learn our wild foraging identification, LOL.